Widespread rain brings Hidden Pines Fire to 100% containment

Heavy rains expected Friday morning through midday Saturday, leading to flash flood risk

Fire damage on Long Trail in Smithville
Fire damage on Long Trail in Smithville (Sophia Beausoleil/KXAN News)

BASTROP (KXAN) — Eleven days after the Hidden Pines Fire broke out, the fire is now officially 100 percent contained and under control as of Saturday afternoon. Widespread rain helped move the process along. The Bastrop County Office of Emergency Management and other county officials are now focusing on recovery operations.

“With the widespread rainfall, we have finally declared the Hidden Pines fire contained. I am grateful to our Incident Command and the hundreds of men and women who valiantly fought to protect life and property. Now the long, difficult recovery can begin in earnest,” says Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape in a statement.

  • PHOTOS: Damage from the Hidden Pines Fire

Hidden Pines Fire: The Latest


Containment: 100% as of Saturday, Oct. 24
Acres burned: 4,582
Homes destroyed: 64 “home-like” structures, countless other outbuildings destroyed
Possible Cause of Fire: County Judge Paul Pape gave two possibilities for the start of the fire, saying it was either caused by overheated farm machinery or an intentionally set fire in violation of the burn ban.

 


From Fire to Flood

As of Saturday morning, the burn scar in the Hidden Pines Fire received approximately 3-5 inches of rain. There have been no reports of flooding in the area, the forecast says the Colorado River is expected to rise but no structural flooding is expected. There is no flood warning attached with the Colorado River at this time.

County officials are worried the heavy rains will cause fire-damaged trees to become unstable.

Fire damages car in Hidden Pines Fire
Fire damages car in Hidden Pines Fire (Sophia Beausoleil/KXAN News)

“Soils will be loose with no vegetation to protect them. If we’re to have flooding rains in the next few days and few months, we might lose some structures,” says Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape regarding the possibility of rain. A Bluebonnet Electric spokesperson says if rain loosens the soil and causes trees to fall into power lines, residents should call and report the outage immediately.

Bluebonnet Electric says they’ve identified 1,313 trees that need to be cut down immediately. The company will have 15-20 crews in the footprint cutting down the trees over the next two weeks. Mark Rose of Bluebonnet Electric says they have spent $2.7 million in the past three days, compared to $29 million spent in the aftermath of the 2011 Bastrop fires.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has also issued a closure notice for all of Buescher State Park through next week—if you’re on the park’s property, it is now against the law.

Dumpsters for residents who have spoiled food in their refridgerators are placed at Antioch at Gotier Trace and SH71 at CottleTown. The dumpsters will be dumped daily.

Luecke Family Response

In response to county officials stating the fire might have been caused by someone who violated the burn ban, the Luecke family says, “farm personnel did not start or set any burn pile on fire at any time,” in a statement from the Luecke’s family attorney, Jeff Ray.

This is how the attorney described what happened the day the Hidden Pines Fire broke out:

The family says at the time of the fire, a tractor operator was operating a John Deere tractor with a Bush Hog rotary cutter (mower) attached. The operator was cutting briar bushes and weeds in the open pasture with the Bush Hog rotary blades, an operation he had performed hundreds of times. As he was making a wide turn, he looked back and saw a very small circular fire some distance away. He immediately drove the tractor and rotary cutter to the fire and attempted to put out the fire by dragging dirt and debris over the fire. He then got a fire extinguisher and attempted to extinguish the fire. He then radioed the ranch office and 911 was called immediately by Barry Walther from the ranch. The tractor operator then went directly to the front gate to allow first responders access to the property and fire zone.

The official cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Volunteer Resources Center

The Volunteer Resources Center located at 108 Main Street, Smithville, will be operational starting on Thursday. The center will be open from Thursday-Saturday 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. and Sunday 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.

The Volunteer Resources Center will also be the new location for daily briefings at 3 p.m. Tuesday’s 5 p.m. town hall at the Smithville Recreation Center will be the last one at that location.

Feed and hay donations can be taken to the Bastrop Livestock Show Barn behind the American Legion Hall (3003 Loop 150 E) in Bastrop.

Hidden Pines Fire

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